Arrival in Thailand: Bangkok
This huge city is the travel and economic hub for all of Southeast Asia. And it’s WAY bigger than we expected it to be. There’s so much to do in Bangkok that we will definitely have to come back to experience the rest.
Arrival in Thailand
We flew to Thailand and went through multiple steps of showing various documents at the airport, before grabbing our bags and finding our transportation. We entered Thailand under the “Test and Go” entry program. This means that upon arrival we had to get a PCR test and quarantine until the results came back negative (just the first day, less than 24 hours). Everything must be booked beforehand, including a specific group of hotels and airport transportation.
After our PCR test, we were taken to our hotel and officially in quarantine. I (Sam) was suffering from food poisoning from something I ate in Sri Lanka the day before, and somehow, even though Ty ate the EXACT SAME THING as me, he was totally fine. But this was okay because I needed a caretaker haha.
At the hotel, our meals were brought to us and in the morning we were told we tested negative and were free to go. We walked to the nearby mall to get a SIM card for Ty’s phone so we would have data when we needed it and then found a taxi to our next hotel.
Exploring the City
Sadly, even though we were in Bangkok for almost a week, we didn’t get to explore as much as we thought we would since I (Sam) was sick and we spent one LONG morning at Immigration to extend our visas. However, we did get to a few temples, took a bike tour, and meet some furry friends! We will definitely be back to see more of what this city has to offer!
Here is what we got to do during this visit to Bangkok:
The Golden Mount, Wat Saket
This beautiful temple can be seen from the surrounding area since it rests upon a manmade hill. To get to the top, you have to walk up roughly 300 steps on a staircase that winds around the hill. Inside there are various buddha shrines and a stupa on top.
Wat Pho is one of the most popular temples in Bangkok due to the giant reclining Buddha in the temple complex. The entire complex is filled with intricately decorated stupas and many Buddha statues. We walked around admiring the various structures and read some of the history.
The temple scammers in Bangkok have such a smooth set up. It’s honestly impressive, although annoying. We were tried twice but luckily didn’t fall for it.
Here’s how it went:
Someone on the street sees foreigners and greets them, acting as just a regular person, pretending to be interested in where we are from and what we are planning to see in the city. One guy even asked us if we knew any Thai and Ty was proud to share the few words we knew.
Then, if you say you are heading to the Grand Palace or Wat Pho, the person will say that it’s currently closed for a ceremony in honor of someone important and that it won’t be open for a few hours. Since it’s “closed”, they will provide advice on what to see instead, maybe even suggest a tour, marking it on a map they pull out of their pocket for you or show you on Google Maps (using google maps, made it seem less scammy and more like they were just being kind)
After that, when you feel grateful that some person was kind enough to help you out, they offer to flag down a tuktuk and get you a good deal. One magically heads down the road in your direction. The first guy that tried to scam us even “bargained the price in half for us”.
We did get in the first tuk-tuk because we thought we were just being taken to the pier to cross the river. However, when we got to the water, we were offered an expensive tour and put the pieces together. We realized what was going on and said no we are just going to walk down the street for lunch.
We were told “everything in Chinatown is closed for cleaning day, the only place to get lunch is the floating market, we will take you there on the tour”. After repeatedly saying no, you could tell the guy was frustrated but we walked away, and guess what…there were plenty of things open for food!
Once we got closer to the temple, another guy tried the scam again, and then another, even though the walls of the temple complex was literally in sight “Oh it’s closed for a ceremony, you will have to come back at this time, instead let me take you somewhere else”.
Once you get to Wat Pho, there are postings that says “Open Everyday 8 am -5 pm”. If they were genuine, maybe we would take the tour, we are interested in seeing the city! But why lie, you know?
Bangkok by Bike
The bike tour took us to a different side of Bangkok, one we never would have seen just ourselves.
We met our tour guide at the bike shop one morning and were joined by another young couple from France. The guide was Dutch but had lived with his Thai wife in Bangkok for over 30 years. Our guide taught us how to say “hello”, “delicious”, and “thank you” in Thai, which has been nice to use since then.
We rode through old Chinatown, a market (which was pretty hectic on a bike), and some neighborhoods. Then, we headed to a pier, loaded our bikes onto a longboat, and were taken across the water.
We ended up in Bang Krachao. This section outside of Bangkok is known as the green lung of the city. For every tree that’s cut down, they have to plant a new one in the area.
The entire tour was about 4-5 hours, including a break for lunch. Thankfully the path was all flat, so it wasn’t too much of a workout! We weren’t told much about the places we visited, which was a bummer, but we still explored parts of Bangkok we never would have seen and it was fun to ride around the city!
Cats Cats Cats
We went to the cutest cafe in Bangkok: Caturday Cafe! At the cafe, you can enjoy a coffee or small meal while playing with some of the resident cats. You can even buy some food to feed them.
The cats were so funny, some sleeping in baskets or large bowls. The staff even brought some over to us in the bowls and baskets. They were so calm too!
Most of the cats there are little interesting looking with their short faces. And some even had short legs!
One afternoon, we took a walk through Chinatown. We had a tasty lunch at a small stand in a quiet alley and got some boba tea. We walked through the Old Market, trying to figure out what many of the items were. On most street corners of the main road, there are gold jewelry shops that had lines of people out the door!
To get around Bangkok, most of the time we used the metro systems in place. Bangkok has a subway and a couple of skyline systems. They are super easy to use and can get you to most of the city!
Since finding tasty (veg-friendly) meals is one of our favorite things to do, we couldn’t leave this post without sharing some of the delicious things we’ve tried in Bangkok. Maybe we will make this a new segment of our posts haha.
As we said before, there is so much to do in Bangkok, we will have to make it back someday soon. We both feel we only got a glimpse of what the city has to offer. However, we were both excited to head to our next destination. To get there, we would have to take a train, a bus, and a boat! We will share all about where we went next week!
Sam and Ty